Gianna Amendola’s love of soccer goes back to when she was 4 years old. She played in a local soccer league at St. Anthony of Padua in Rocky Point.
"Ever since then," she said, "I loved kicking a ball around and scoring goals."
Amendola, a fifth-year varsity player, hasn’t stopped since. The Rocky Point senior forward leads Long Island in goals (18) and points (21) after Saturday’s games. She had three goals and an assist in a 7-0 win over Harborfields on Friday.
"It’s crazy, it’s already my fifth year," said Amendola, Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. "I can’t believe how much I’ve accomplished and how much I wanted to keep doing until it’s over."
Rocky Point (8-0 overall, 6-0 in Suffolk Division II) held the top spot in its league going into Friday’s contests. Amendola has scored at least a goal or an assist in every Eagles’ game so far this season.
"She’s a beast and as tenacious as they come," Rocky Point coach Peter Costa said. "She’s relentless. Not everyone has the ability for scoring goals, but she just has a knack."
Costa also has a knack for making tough decisions. The seventh-year coach decided to have Amendola, Megan Loeser, Lindsey Lucia and Victoria Curreri play on the varsity as eighth graders.
"Early on, I would get frustrated against bigger and stronger girls on other teams," Amendola said, "but I knew I was good and I had to keep going."
She would lead her team in points as an eighth grader (eight goals and two assists) and has been the Eagles’ points leader every season since.
Interestingly, the one person Amendola struggled to hit the back of the net against was her own father, Greg, a former goalkeeper at Miller Place.
"He was tough on me," said the 5-3 Amendola, who also wrestles for Rocky Point. "I couldn’t score against him. I’m very competitive and I was like, 'I have to beat him.’ "
That moment finally came for her when she was 12 years old.
"He said, ‘You have a special talent and you’re beating me up,’ " she recalled.
Amendola isn’t through just yet. She has bigger aspirations including an Eagles’ postseason run and hopefully playing soccer in college. Also, she could wind up as Rocky Point’s all-time scoring leader in soccer.
"It would just mean that I put in a lot of work," she said, "and I did something big in my community."